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Gold slips as investors weigh Omicron fallout, await payrolls

A worker loads 12,5-kilogram gold ingots onto a trolley.Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Gold nudged lower as investors assessed potential risks from the omicron Covid-19 variant on the global recovery while awaiting key U.S. jobs data due later in the week.

Bullion fell 3.6% last year in its biggest annual decline since 2015 as central banks started to dial back pandemic-era stimulus to fight inflation. Spot gold slipped 0.3% Monday to $1,823.84 an ounce at 9:06 a.m. in London, after earlier touching the highest since Nov. 22.

With major markets including Australia, Japan and China all shut for holidays, investors will look ahead to the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting on Wednesday and the U.S. nonfarm payrolls figures due Friday.

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“In light of the shift toward a quicker tapering process and an expected three rate hikes in 2022, the jobs report will be the key market risk event,” said Yeap Jun Rong, a strategist at IG Asia Pte. Any underperformance in the upcoming jobs report “may potentially cool some of the rate hike bets, which may translate into further strength for gold prices,” he said.

In base metals, copper futures for March were little changed on the Comex. The London Metal Exchange is closed for a holiday.